Linda Maye Adams

Ideas From Interesting Places


“Where do you get your ideas?” is a pretty common question for writers.  There seems to be an awe surrounding ideas, as if that were the hardest thing about the story (newsflash:  It’s the writing part that’s hard).   Here’s how I got the idea for a short story I just finished, called “Junk for Sale, Stories Free.”

At one point I spotted a couple of articles that interested me in The Washington Times.  Since I was at work, I tore out the articles, folded them up, and stuck them in a notebook.  I meant to take out the articles and toss them into my idea box, but I forgot.  About a month later, I happened to have the notebook with me as I was pondering the next project.  I decided the project needed to be fiction because I’m trying to get recent fiction credits for my next round of queries.  Anyway, I’m trying to think of ideas, and I see the folded up articles.  I pull both of them out and read through them.  The first one didn’t do much for me.  The second one was Hyenas Not a Laughing Matter in Ethiopia.  As I reading it,  I misread a single sentence.  That misread sentence led to the story.  A very simple place to find an idea.

The story weighs in at 753 words.  I just got it into the email to a paying publication, so I’ll see what happens.

2 Comments

  1. Just living usually does it for me.

    Dr. B

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  2. bigwords88

    I never use ideas in isolation, mostly because that feels like I’m somehow cheating. The mix-n-match of things which are odd (or at the least, vaguely out of the ordinary) seems to be a way I can scratch out a draft without going over words endlessly – it doesn’t need to be stuff ripped from the headlines, but that can sometimes jog ideas out of the recess of my brain.

    The best time to get ideas is when I’m not actively looking for ideas, most often when I’m trying to finish one thing before I get the urge to start something shiny and new. It doesn’t help that there are so many weird things around, and they often catch my eye.

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